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A letter to my girls

(So, this summer my boys became teenagers, and I worked through those emotions. : ) And then, in the last several weeks, both of my girls celebrated birthdays, and I realized again how quickly time is passing. I thought back to when I was a pre-teen, and what I wished someone had said to me when I was their age. And then I sat down and wrote my girls a letter.)

Dear Hannah & Danielle,

Another birthday. Another year older! It is a bittersweet time for me as your mom. I love watching you grow into young women, but at the same time I miss the innocence and simplicity of our yesterdays. As you each celebrate another birthday, and inch ever so much closer to womanhood, there are a few things I feel I should say to you.

The world has messages and sentiments it deems appropriate for times such as this, as we celebrate who you are becoming and look ahead with expectation towards your future.

I disagree with most of them.

Believe in the beauty of your dreams.

Set your mind to it, and you can accomplish anything.

Believe in yourself.

It doesn’t matter to me what you choose to do with your life, all I care about is that you are happy.

When you learn to love yourself, you’ve discovered the greatest love of all.

It all sounds nice, but it’s a bunch of bologna. Sorry. I wish the fact that something sounds nice would make it true, but it doesn’t. In fact, sometimes the truths are the hardest things to hear.

The Bible says not to let anyone look down on you just because you are young, but to be an example to others in the way you live. (I Tim 4:12) This makes me realize I should not wait to tell you these things until you are 18. I need to tell you now. I need you to know them today.

Here’s the truth, girls. You have been given one life. You must choose how you will spend it. And this is not a decision for when you are an adult and leave our home. It’s a decision you can make now, even in your youth. Every day you are alive is a day you are spending, a day you can never get back--and why waste all these wonderful days in front of you in the next few years of young womanhood?!

Most girls your age spend these years obsessed with boys, friends, clothes, and fun. And as long as you stay out of trouble, folks would say that is perfectly normal. Most girls your age are “figuring out who they are”, discovering what interests them, and building a healthy self-esteem. So it’s ok to be obsessed with frivolous things at this age, they would say.

Most parents are happy if their kids are basically moral, get good grades, and show interest and even achievement in some sort of extracurricular activity. Listen to Christian music, hang out with the right kids, and go to youth group every week. Just let kids be kids, and when they grow up and know who they are, then they will begin to figure out the whole God-thing.

But what if there’s a different paradigm all together? Not just listen to the right music, be moral, and make sure your cute clothes are appropriate. Not just live as the world lives, and sprinkle Jesus in.

What if-- your life is not about you? What if I told you God created you for a purpose, and frankly, that purpose has little to do with your interests/ desires and everything to do with HIS kingdom?

The world will tell you to find your significance in how you look, what you know, what you can do, and who likes you. I’m telling you—it doesn’t matter if you are the most accomplished, beautiful, popular, smartest gals in the world…it will not make you significant. It will not make your life matter.

You do not have anything inside of you, in and of yourself, that makes you beautiful. I know that sounds harsh for a mom to say, but if I believe the Bible, than I have to believe that, even about my own kids. The Bible says that “Nothing good in me dwells” (Rom 7:18) and that “The thoughts of man are only evil continuously.” (Gen. 6:5) That doesn’t jive with the sentiment of “believing in yourself” or “looking for your inner beauty”.

Now, saying that doesn’t change the way I feel about you as your mom. I love you to the moon! In my eyes you’re a rockstar!!! But God did not say that I could decide the standard. He has one already, and it’s perfection. None of us measure up to that. What’s amazing, is that in spite of the fact that we fall short, He loves us anyway. Think for a minute about little Abby. I know that you love her intensely already, like I do. And yet you’ve never met her! You’re not loving her because she is particularly loveable---you don’t even know her yet! You are choosing to love her. This is a reflection of how God has loved us. In fact, His greatest act of love for us was when we were the most unlovable (Rom 5:6-8).

And this is comforting. Because His love for you is not based on your attractiveness, your performance, your “goodness”…He just loves you. You do not have to earn acceptance; he gives it to you freely.

He frankly doesn’t care if you get good grades or look cute in pictures or recycle your water bottles or become the youngest doctor on the planet. He cares that you realize you belong to Him, bought with a price, and there should be enough significance for your life in that truth alone. His righteousness, or goodness, is inside of you, because of Jesus. And that, my dears, gives your life meaning and value. That is beautiful! Don’t look inside yourself for your own strength or beauty—lean on His Spirit inside of you instead! There is much HE can do through you, if you will let Him!

You will spend these years pursuing something. What will you pursue? What will drive you? What will you value and what will make you feel valuable? The world will offer you many paths and make you many promises. But I can tell you, none of them will satisfy in the long run (Prov. 14:12).

Don’t waste these years, girls. You can serve Jesus now just as much as I can as an adult! You can love widows and orphans and grow in His word and depend on His Spirit and have Kingdom-impact just as much as I can.

And know that as you labor for Him, it will not always be fun or easy. It is a race, and you’ll need endurance to finish. The crowds will not always be rooting for you. You will fall down sometimes, because you just will—you’re not going to run it perfectly. But that’s ok. Just get back up, and get back in the race.

Because running—participating—is a great privilege. You were not created to be a spectator. You were created to run. And that is where you will find joy. That is where you will find true beauty. You will feel His pleasure and know His purpose for you.

And know I’ll be right there, cheering you on and loving you through it all. This is one race you won’t run alone. We’re in this together. And I wouldn’t miss a second of it---being your mom is one of the greatest joys I’ll know this side of heaven.

I love you, Hannah. I love you, Danielle.

your mom

For you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,

which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)



WhitneyandScott said...

I LOVE this! You are a wonderful mama and a beautiful example to those of us who are a few years behind you in this motherhood thing. Thanks for sharing.

To God be the Glory! said...

Thank you for allowing me to read "over the shoulder of your girls" your letter to them... a similar letter I hope many moms will write to their daughters. It is wonderful! I bear witness they are not wasting their years. And yes, they are rock stars to me as well!!

Connie said...

Rachel - THIS was a timely letter and you were right to not wait to write it. In fact, I heartily encourage you to pour this kind of message down your daughters' thirsty throats day after day...I suspect you are doing that very thing!

We continue to pray for Abby daily, and for you and the rest of yours. By the end of the month you will have held your little girl, and kissed her "until we come again soon." Jesus told us He would not leave us as orphans...that He has gone to prepare a place for us...and that He will come again. I think of that every time I think of the new regulations to go twice to ET. Not easy, but the heartbreaking going-away-to-return-again aspect of grafting Abby into your family clearly communicates more of the gospel story. I pray this knowledge comforts you in the days ahead as you cling to the One who will return for you one day. And I pray that as Abby longs for your return and you long to go get her, we will all be reminded to be truly homesick for heaven.

Tell Joe I have been reading some of his blog posts lately and give him two thumbs both should keep writing as often as the Lord gives you opportunity. God bless you!

AGoodKindOfCrazy said...

That was awesome. I wish someone had told ME those things when I was younger. My daughter is turning 10 in a few months and she'll be getting a very similiar letter. :)